A Wanli Hundred Boys Porcelain Box Examined | Reference

Posted on Posted in Art Reference, Collectors

Hong Kong 1887
19th C. Hong Kong (this image circa 1887) Where the Wanli Box was acquired.

 Wanli Hundred Boys Porcelain Box
Wanli Hundred Boys Porcelain Box

Detail Wanli box detail hundred boys box
Detail Wanli box detail hundred boys box

Detail Wanli box detail
Detail Wanli box detail

Detail Wanli 100 boys box
Detail Wanli box

Side view Wanli box
Side view Wanli box

Base of Wanli porcelain box
Base of Wanli porcelain box

Wanli reign mark on porcelain
Wanli reign mark

The Frigate ESSEX, Collection PEM, Salem, MA
The Frigate ESSEX, Collection PEM, Salem, MA

Liverpool discharge certificate for Francis Afred Moreland.
Liverpool discharge certificate for Francis Alfred Moreland.

Hong Kong to New York "Child Harold"
Hong Kong to New York "Child Harold", discharge certificate for Francis Alfred Moreland.

 

Wanli Hundred Boys Porcelain Box

A Wanli Hundred Boys porcelain box came into our possession a few months ago from a local estate here in Massachusetts. With a little digging and research we were able to determine how it arrived here from China and who exactly brought it.

The box left Hong Kong aboard the clipper ship "Childe Harold" on March 11, 1862 and arrived in New York on July 23, 1862.  It had been acquired in China by Francis A. Moreland who had been born in Salem Massachusetts in 1836, he lived a very long life passing away in 1936 just short of his 100th birthday.  After leaving the life of a "Able Seaman" he enjoyed a long career working as an upholsterer in Boston starting in 1872.  Below is a biography on Francis Alfred Moreland.

We found the symmetry of the Wanli Hundred Boys porcelain box having been brought to the west from Hong Kong and is now back there once again a nice end to a long trip. 


Wanli Hundred Boys Porcelain Box

Below is a video we did on the box, discussing its iconographic decorations, its quality, and characteristics. 

Examining A Ming Dynasty 100 Boys Wanli Blue & White Porcelain Box

Click to view.

About Francis Alfred Moreland and His Wanli Hundred Boys Porcelain Box

Francis Moreland's parents John Moreland of Salem, New Hampshire, and Hannah  Larrabee of Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Early on his family lived at Stage Point in Salem, Massachusett from 1847 to about 1853s. On several occasions during the early years of adulthood he worked on ships in the China Trade. Sailing to from both Liverpool England, as well as the 1862 trip aboard the Child Harold, Hong Kong to New York. (see annotated discharge papers) He then apparently boarded another ship for Liverpool, gaining another discharge and "Certificate of Character" sated October 8, 1862. 

Vessel Child Harold
The "Child Harold"

More about Francis A. Moreland.

In 1847 when he was thirty-six, Moreland's name first appeared in the city directories of Boston, where he was working as an upholsterer on Washington Street. He apparently maintained his residence in Everett, how­ever, as indicated in the 1874 directory. At the age of thirty-nine, he married for the first time. It was the first marriage, too, for his 32-year-old bride Sarah, the daughter of Ebenezer and Rebecca Pitman of Marblehead.'

Although Moreland worked for several different firms at various times, including a short stint in 1878­-1879 as foreman for the firm of Ezra H. Brabrook, one of the leading upholstery firms of its day.  By 1886 he had stayed for nearly forty years. Shepard, Norwell was a large wholesale and retail dry goods store on Winter Street in Boston that claimed in their advertising to have one of the complete drapery and upholstery departments in the country. Moreland served there as foreman, superintendent of upholstery, and finally, as an interior decorator.' It was during his tenure there that his book was published. The first edition appeared around 1889, followed by a second edition in 189o, and a third edition in 1899.4 He retired when he reached his late eighties, around 1924, after a career of more than fifty years in the upholstery/interior design business.

 Essex Institute
Essex Institute, Salem MA

Moreland's wife Sarah had died in 1908.' He con­tinued to live in his house at 170 Bradford Street in Everett with his son Benjamin P Moreland until about 1930 when, at around the age of 94, he moved with his son to Hamilton, Massachusetts.

After his retirement, Moreland continued to work with his hands. For example, in his ninetieth year, he made a handsome model of the Frigate Essex, which he presented to the Peabody Museum in Salem.' He also contributed a sketch and his reminiscences of Salem's Stage Point to an article in the 1930 Essex Institute Histor­ical Collections, explaining that he was certain his draw­ing of the area was very correct. Although his hand had become quite unsteady, he prided himself on a very retentive memory, especially for matters of long ago. He also made several donations to the Essex Institute, of which he was a member, including a 1922 book, Period Furnishings, and some miniature furniture that he  had made.' Frank Moreland died on July 28, 1936, three and a half months before his one-hundredth birthday."

Moreland's book, Practical Decorative Upholstery, which he wrote, illustrated, and first published himself contains much information for the student of decorative arts of that period, not the least of which is that con­tained in the advertisements of Boston firms that appear in the back of each edition of the book. The mast prom­inent ad is that of the drapery and upholstery depart­ment of Shepard, Norland and Company, Moreland's employer. The firm advertised the following:

We shall be pleased to visit houses, and advise with owners in regard to the proper combinations of colors tending to produce harmony with carpets and wallpapers. furnishing estimates and drawings when desired. Many interiors can be arranged charmingly at a moderate cost, if the proper thought is given to it, hence the value of consultation with men of taste and experience.

The Ming Wanli Hundred Boys porcelain box was passed down through the family after being inherited in 1936. It's now back in Hong Kong where it's journey began over 150 years ago.